Category Archives: LIFE ON BOARD

On board activities

Leisure activities on board

Social life on board a cargo vessel is very important from my point of view because it can offer seafarers a certain degree of amusement, closer to the ‘normality’ they are all used to when they are ashore. After a hard day of work, between two ports or during long passages, seafarers have the time to enjoy a few hours of leisure activities in the common spaces, like Recreation Rooms, in big or small groups. Even if these leisure activities are nothing more than a few hours spent in the company of your fellow seamen while watching a movie and sharing a glass of wine after dinner is certainly the sort of activity you wait for all day long, in order to relax and see the more optimistic side of life.

Celebrating Easter on board HS Beethoven

Easter on board

Holidays on board are always welcome and must be celebrated with joy and (at least) a festive dinner where all the crew can get together to share a glass and a nice conversation. Last year I spent Easter on board HS Bruckner in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea, underway to Malta and in the middle of a joyful team of Romanians, Montenegrins and Filipinos. Both the Catholic and the Orthodox Easters were celebrated in the same day and everybody was more than happy to take part in the event and get involved in the preparations as much as possible.

Visiting home ports

More than 25 years ago most of Romanian seafarers used to join their vessels in one of our local ports and they usually came back – at the end of their very long contracts – in the same ports, too. Coming to the home port by ship used to be the normal routine for a few thousands seamen who didn’t have to worry at all about their transportation when they were embarking or disembarking as their trip from ship to home (or the other way around) lasted at most for few hours and it didn’t involved any plane.

Fishing at Piraeus anchorage

Staying at anchorage for a few days is not a good option for a passenger who is travelling on board a container vessel – and who is paying for every day of his/her voyage – but for the crew it is a very good opportunity to slow down their rhythm and change the daily routine.

Halloween Party on board HS Debussy

Halloween party on board

Halloween is the funniest celebration that can take place on board. Most people may think Halloween is a children’s type of holiday, but when you are on the vessel – away from your family and friends – you are allowed to have your part of fun and a distraction like this can be the best and easiest alternative. Having fun – from time to time – is a way of recharging the batteries after a hard week of work and preparing yourself for a next one. The more people involved in the event, the funnier it could get and even the evenings that follow can be brighten up by the hundreds of photos and videos everybody shares with everybody.

Unexpected guests on board (Puerto Deseado)

In the winter of 2012, I was on board HS Liszt, sailing between Uruguay and Argentina. In the most Southern Port – Puerto Deseado (Argentina) – we arrived after the departure of Magellan Penguins and we could only see lots of birds and few sea lions. However, here I witnessed the most courageous jump ever performed by a sea lion.

Table Tennis Competition on board

Table tennis competition

During long passages across the oceans of the world, seafarers have the time to enjoy at least 3-4 spare hours every day and do the things they like most. Some of them prefer to spend their evening time watching movies in their cabins or in the common areas while others enjoy different and more exciting activities like video games, chess, backgammon, darts or table tennis. After all, being on a vessel doesn’t mean that you have to work 24/7 because you have a fixed schedule of work and resting hours and everybody is entitled to have a few hours of leisure time every day.

Taking up a new hobby – crocheting

Most people think that I may get bored while travelling on a container vessel, without the schedule of every day work, like the others members of the crew. For people trapped in the routine of shore life, with all the attractions and distractions which come every step of the way, life at sea may seem very dull and far from interesting.

Fishing

The greatest fishing parties of my life took place while I was on board the vessel, sailing the oceans and the seas of the world. This must be obvious for many people who think that everything you need for a good fishing is the water. But, this is the least thing you really have on your side because the thing you need most is time. You may have the greatest and most suitable fishing tools, you may be surrounded by thousands of gallons of water from all sides and thousands of hundreds of fishes lurking around, but if you do not have the possibility to stop the vessel – at least for a few hours – and fish, everything may be forgotten. All you have to do is watch and admire the fish jumping around the vessel or some other bigger fish (or mammals) hunting smaller fish in their everyday life routine.

A new celebration on board HS Bruckner (April 2014)

Holidays and celebrations are always different at sea. Although many important  – and sometimes personal – events take place when seamen are on board the vessel and very far away from their families, these moments should not be forgotten, but celebrated.